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1999, Museum Collection, Pocket Globe, Space Flown, Space Shuttle, Adler Planetarium, Chicago

Space Flown British Antique Pocket Globe
Space Shuttle Discovery Mission
Adler Planetarium, Chicago
December 19, 1999 to present (permanent collection)

One of our globes actually orbited the earth. Collector Robert Gordon donated a Lane Pocket Globe that he purchased from the George Glazer Gallery to Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. Thereupon, American Astronaut John Grunsfeld brought this globe on a space shuttle mission on December 19, 1999 as arranged by the Adler. Curator Pedro Raposo provides some background on the planetarium’s website (excerpted below):

You have certainly marveled at the space artifacts we have on display in the Mission Moon exhibition. But it might surprise you that one of the oldest objects in our collections to have flown to space is actually a 200-year-old pocket globe. In December 1999, it was taken aboard Space Shuttle Discovery during the mission STS-103, whose goal was to repair and upgrade some components of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The globe was carried by astronaut Dr. John Grunsfeld, a former Adler Trustee who is also the grandson of Ernest A. Grunsfeld, Jr.—the architect who designed the Adler’s original building.

Description continues below.


In case you are wondering: No, the astronauts did not take the pocket globe as a backup in case the Shuttle’s navigation systems failed. It was flown as a symbolic gesture, and very appropriately. Closed and self-contained as they may look at first sight, globes are paragons of exploration—just like the Space Shuttle and the HST. And before human beings were able to see the Earth in its full splendor from space, the closest one could get to that life-changing experience was to stare at a terrestrial globe.


After the STS-103 flight, the Lane globe was accessioned into our collections as the result of a generous gift from Adler Trustee Robert N. Gordon. If you think that after such an adventurous path, the museum is the end of the line for this pocket globe, take heart: As it happens with any other artifact that comes into our collections, it just gained a new life—helping us tell the story of the human drive to explore, experiment, and learn.

Read more on the Adler Planetarium website.


Raposo, Pedro. “Out of the pocket to outer space: The saga of a portable globe.” Adler Planetarium. 2 October 2018. (7 January 2021).